If our son was killed in a fireworks accident, what are our legal options?

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If our son was killed in a fireworks accident, what are our legal options?

He was seriously injuried in a fireworks accident and passed away due to his injuries a week later. The homeowner offered the maximum available on his homeowner’s policy which was accepted. I am just lost on what to do. Where do we stand? We are still struggling to come to terms with all this and need some advice.

Asked on July 9, 2015 under Personal Injury, Washington


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Sorry to hear about your son.

Since you accepted the settlement from the homeowner's insurance carrier, you won't be able to sue the homeowner.  You can sue the manufacturer of the fireworks and the seller of the fireworks in a wrongful death claim based on negligence and strict liability.

Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable manufacturer would have exercised to produce a product that is not defective).  The manufacturer is liable and the seller (store where the fireworks were purchased) is also liable even if the store did not know the fireworks were defective.

Negligence and strict liability are separate causes of action (claims) in the lawsuit.  Strict liability imposes liability whether or not due care was exercised.

It may be difficult to prove that the fireworks were defective because they are inherently dangerous and are designed to explode.  You can argue that the warnings on the product were not adequate and therefore the fireworks were unreasonably dangerous.

Prior to filing your wrongful death lawsuit, it may be possible to settle the case with the insurance carriers for the manufacturer and seller.  If the case is settled with both manufacturer and seller, NO lawsuit is filed.

If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carriers, reject the settlement offers and file your lawsuit for wrongful death with causes of action (claims) for negligence and strict liability against the manufacturer and seller (store where the fireworks were purchased).

If the case is settled with one, but not both parties (manufacturer and seller), only name the party with whom the case has not settled as a defendant in your lawsuit.

If the case is NOT settled, your wrongful death lawsuit with causes of action for negligence and strict liability, must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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